Not to sound like a broken record, but the stock plastic earbuds that came packaged with your shiny new MP3 player aren't doing you any favors. After loading up your device with music, the next thing to do is replace the headphones. Of course, if you're not absurdly picky about audio quality, we can understand not wanting to spend $100 or more on a new pair. That's where options such as the Creative EP-630 come in. These sound-isolating earphones offer a comfortable fit and improved audio for just $39.99.
Unlike stock earbuds, the Creative EP-630 earphones also offer a modicum of style. You can select from five earpiece colors--black, blue, green, pink, or white--all of which offer a slightly metallic sheen. However, they are constructed out of plastic rather than metal, which could be good or bad, depending on your preference. The plus side is that they are exceptionally light and thus tend to stay in place during activity. On the other hand, plastic 'buds do feel cheaper and may not be as durable.
The EP-630's cable, which is white except in the case of the black version, raises some concern for durability as well. It's quite thin and there's no slider at the Y junction to help prevent tangles. The cord measures 4 feet long and terminates in a gold-plated straight plug. Along with the earphones, Creative includes three sizes of silicone eartips to help with fit. The sleeves are quite soft, and we had no issues achieving a seal with the ear. Thanks to this and the small size of the earpieces, we found the EP-630s to be quite comfortable after more than an hour of wear, though this will no doubt vary per user.
As might be expected in this price range, the EP-630 earphones are light on features. They offer a good amount of passive sound isolation, which is a nice touch, though be forewarned that noise from the cable rubbing across the body is audible during quieter songs.
In general, though, audio doesn't suffer from any noticeable issues. Music comes through very clearly, with a reasonable (though not amazing) amount of high-end detail. Mids are quite forward and have a nice warmth and richness, but are not as buttery as what you can expect from high-end earbuds. Low-end response is the one thing lacking to our ears, but only somewhat--some tracks are better than others, dance pop being an example of a genre that performs well. And what bass you do get is pleasantly tight. All in all, the Creative EP-630 earphones are a solid choice in the sub-$50 range, but be wary of durability issues.